21 Jul 2022 17:49

Nornickel considering transshipping via North African ports, intensification of deliveries via eastern corridor

MOSCOW. July 21 (Interfax) - Nornickel is working on the possibility of transshipment of its products via ports in North Africa, as well as the intensification of shipments to Asia, director of Nornickel's logistics department Ravil Nasybullov said, speaking at an Eastern Economic Forum field session titled "Prospects for year-round navigation along the Northern Sea Route".

According to him, the cornerstone in the development of the eastern corridor is the expansion of the icebreaker fleet, which is a strategic goal for the state.

"We are working on the possibility of transshipment in the ports of North Africa in case of the closure of European ports. But in fact, we are seriously considering the eastern corridor as well," he said.

Earlier, Nornickel chief Vladimir Potanin spoke of working on an alternative chain of metal supplies, focused on China and markets in Southeast Asia. In the event the port of Rotterdam refuses to accept the Russian company's deliveries, the organization of supplies through the port of Tangier in Morocco is being considered, Potanin said in early July.

At the moment, almost all of Nornickel's products are supplied from Murmansk to the European market, where primary consumers are located, Nasybullov stated.

"The eastern corridor is not in great demand right now, but given the situation, I can't rule out that our cargo flow to the east will change," he said.

With the development of the eastern corridor, trade relations in this direction will also become more active, he added: "We have yet to set this up fully, because we have western machinery and equipment. But one way or another, we will have to switch to other supply channels. And this corridor will be in demand more than ever."

Nornickel's representative believes that providing for the eastern shipping corridor is a strategic task for the state. "First of all, this requires a full-fledged icebreaker fleet. Rosatom and Rosatomflot should be given credit here. I think that by 2030, if this task is fulfilled, we will reach a new level, Nasybullov said.

Apart from the work on a potential change of trade routes, Nornickel is stepping up operations on the NSR due to a large-scale investment program involving the expansion of mining and modernization of enrichment facilities and environmental projects, he said. Nornickel operates 16 ships, 6 of which are ice-rated Arc-7 vessels.

In 2022, Nornickel significantly boosted cargo traffic, going from about 1.5 million tonnes to 2.3 million tonnes and upgrading the port of Dudinka, which is part of the NSR, Nasybullov said.